Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cross-Gaming Made Me a Better (Plot) Person

Innovation is key when running LARP Plot. It's hard to keep everything fresh and new for the players, because they're all special snowflakes who need you to cater to their every whim. Okay, maybe not every whim.

I had long been a staff or plot member at various camps for WAR, a NERO chapter, and I was happy. I felt like I was doing everything to be creative, but still something was missing. Life moved along at a snails pace.

Then one day, there was a new game called Exiles. Benson Green (credit where credit's due) brought this little western gem to us from down south. Add one part romantic horror, one part steampunk, and one part supernatural monsters, stirring the whole thing with a couple of six-shooters, and Exiles is what you'll get.

Exiles was a smaller game, and relied more heavily on the spirit of the rules than anything else. If you got hit by some crazy spell and didn't know what it did, then it had no effect on you. And since it was an incredibly lethal game (at the time), any jerks who tried to ruin the game could essentially get run out of town on a rail, in the corpse camping metaphorical sense (thankfully it never came to this).

But at Exiles, we had modules where Benson just made up environmental rules. Riverboat, runaway stagecoach, train, and horse modules all had some sort of environmental effect that, while not gamebreaking, really added a new level to those modules.

Running stuff like this outside of normal rules was nothing more than a second thought in Exiles. Rather than having the benefit of being able to play anywhere in the US in different games as the same character, we didn't have to worry about someone on the other side of the nation getting angry that someone else was playing a different game then them. I found a different perspective that would have been difficult to find in WAR - not because the game was bad, but because the game was different.

So what did I do? I started to run modules in WAR using some of the mechanics I had stolen been inspired with. Some of the players were also Exiles players, which helped them convince some of the NERO only players to relax and enjoy the ride. And you know what? They loved it.

Now this story is not a dig on WAR or NERO in any way. It was intended to show you the kind of benefits you can see by cross gaming. More recently, I've been running some plot for Exiles, and I've been able to incorporate some of the organizational skills a few of us got from WAR in order to reduce downtime, and so far, I think it's worked.

Remember - LARPs don't have to be mutually exclusive. Try another game every now and again. If you find that you don't have any fun at the other game, at least now you'll appreciate your game that much more.

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